Josh Volk is a farmer turned inventor and author. In his book, Compact Farms: 15 Proven Plans for Market Farms on 5 Acres or Less, Josh profiles the winning strategies and systems that transform these unique compact spaces into successful growing operations. During our chat, Josh personally guides us through every single farm - all while introducing us to the inspiring folks who represent the heart of each market farm.
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“Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”
― Robert Louis Stevenson.
Before we start to review your book and dive into the 15 farms you profiled, why don’t you tell us about yourself?
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What motivated you to write a book?
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Well Josh, your book is divided into three parts. The first is tittled ‘Why Farm Small’ and you share some strategies here. I’m curious what are some of those that stand out in your mind?
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On page 2, right when you start to talk about compact values and strategies, there’s an image of someone setting bull traps. I’m curious about the hoop structures that are in the ground?
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You’ve got a lot of different row coverings that I see throughout your book. What’s your favorite row cover and where do you source it?
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Part one also features a profile of John Jeavons, director of Ecology Action. I’m assuming his work was inspirational to you and wondering if you could tell us a bit more about him?
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I’m very curious how you found the compact farms across the country that you profile in your book. What was your method, how did you find them, and did you visit all of them?
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Before we dive into each of the 15 farms, I have to ask you about your illustrations. Each profile has an illustrated map of the farm. Who is responsible for this fantastic maps?
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Well, you start first by profiling your own farm, Slow Hand Farm on .15 acres. Is this the smallest farm featured in your book?
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Burn out is a real factor for people on these farms, correct?
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Well, let’s go down the list. Farm number 2 is Four Season Farm.
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Harvest Moon Flower Farm
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Les Jardins de la Grelinette
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Mellowfields Urban Farm
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Full Plate Farm
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Leap Frog Farm
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Cully Neighborhood Farm
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Education is a big part of a lot of these compact farms, isn’t it?
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What do you commonly tell folks who want to give compact farming a try?
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I love the final paragraph and thought it’ll be a great way to close up the interview today. Could you read that for us and share some closing thoughts on your book?
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I never write reviews but this is the best gardening podcast out there. Jennifer has interesting topics and guests and is not one bit annoying like some others are. I love that she involves her kids at the end of the podcast - usually with poetry or music. Really good podcast.
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Still Growing is one of the reliably informative gardening podcasts from North America. The format consists of an intro (personal gardening status chat, seasonal remarks), an extended interview with a guest, and an outro with funny outtakes, side remarks, and some chatter (poems, readings) from the host's children. The podcast is focused on reliable knowledge - the guests are typically experts like academics, master gardeners, gardening entrepreneurs or public garden leaders. The intro and especially the outro give it a homey feel. Given I live in the high northern region, just a little below the Polar Circle, I'm always looking for more cold-weather oriented gardening information. Jennifer Ebeling is in Minnesota, so that's helpful to me! Vegetable gardening (my main interest) gets a good share, but is not predominant. Most topics transcend your specific gardening interest and are applicable to many styles: landscaping principles, vermicomposting, greenhouses. The episodes are typically an hour long, which is just fine for me.
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